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The Electric Vehicles are Coming — Global Sales Likely to Exceed 1 Million During 2017

Electric vehicle (EV) performance has been improving so quickly and prices have been falling so fast that the internal combustion engine (ICE) wouldn’t be able to compete for much longer. You will soon be able to get Porsche performance for Buick prices and when you get that, neither Porsche nor Buick are able to compete.Tony Seba

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We talk a lot here about tipping points. Often this is in the negative sense when it comes to climate change. But when it comes to electrical vehicles, which is one of the key renewable energy technologies that has the capacity to mitigate climate harms, it appears that the world is rapidly approaching a much more positive kind of economic tipping point.

Steadily, markets are opening up to a new wave of far more capable electric vehicles. And this is good news — because the combination of wind + solar + electrical vehicles + battery storage has the capacity to act as a market force that, on its own, will begin to dramatically cut the global carbon emissions now driving dangerous climate change the world over.

850,000 EV Sales for 2016, Possibly More than a Million During 2017

During 2015, as EV ranges extended, as charging networks expanded, as countries like China and India began to incentivize electric vehicles in an effort to fight choking air pollution, and as high value vehicles like Tesla’s model X became available, global EV sales jumped to over 500,000. This momentum continued during 2016 despite plummeting gas prices — a year when sales of electric vehicles are now expected to rise by more than 60 percent to 850,000.

By 2017, it is likely that global annual EV sales will lift still further — hitting over 1 million in the world market as lower cost, longer range electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt, the Tesla Model 3, and an upgraded Nissan Leaf are expected make their entry.

ev-volumes

(Plug in vehicle sales including EVs and PHEVs are expected to jump about 60 percent during 2016. Rising vehicle quality and concerns about pollution and climate change are the primary drivers. Image source: Plug in Electric Vehicles Sales Growth.)

While climate and environmental policy is helping to spur this beneficial trend — with smog-choked cities and countries concerned about climate change pushing for fossil fuel based vehicle bans — it’s important to note that overall EV performance and quality now also appear to be a major underlying driver pushing EV adoption rates higher. In other words, a vehicle with a more powerful engine, faster acceleration, and a larger interior, one that produces less noise while driving, generates no toxic stink from a tail pipe and costs less to fuel and maintain, and one whose operation (when coupled with a renewable electricity supply) won’t contribute to all the nasty droughts, floods, heatwaves, animal deaths and rising tides that are becoming so pervasive due to fossil fuel burning, is looking increasingly attractive.

Rising EV Quality, Lower Cost Helps to Drive Adoption Rates

Rising rates of adoption, in essence, come both from various performance advantages as well as from an increasing societal awareness of EVs’ greatly lessened harmful impacts. Moreover, electric vehicles — like wind and solar — have the ability to produce great leaps in performance, capability, and cost reduction. As a result, they are increasingly narrowing the gap with fossil fuel based vehicles on range and price even as already superior power and efficiency expands.

chevy-bolt

(Higher capability electric vehicles like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 will help to further increase global sales during 2017. On acceleration and torque, both of these vehicles will be able to outperform many ICE based sports cars for a lower price. But the larger point here is that EVs are advancing very rapidly and are likely to be able to outperform ICEs in almost every way by as soon as the 2020s. Image source: Chevy Bolt.)

Vehicle ranges across almost all model lines are rising. The Nissan Leaf, for example, now has a range of 107 miles — compared to 84 miles just two years before — even as the company is expected to provide a 200 mile capable model in the near future. Meanwhile, today’s Leaf’s range is less than half that of the comparatively priced Chevy Bolt whose late 2016 release model boasts a 238 mile capability (about 4 times that of typical electric vehicles from just 2-3 years ago). Well-selling higher end vehicles like Tesla’s model S and X still dominate the longer range category. The base Model S’s range is 210 miles with larger battery pack versions now extending the vehicle’s legs to up to 315 miles.

The Chevy Bolt is the first mass market, moderately priced, fully electric vehicle (starting at around 35,000 dollars) with a highway range in excess of 200 miles available for US buyers. A vehicle that Motor Trend Magazine has rated very favorably. Lower maintenance and fuel costs will further add to the vehicle’s economic value and overall appeal. In late 2017, the Tesla Model 3 will join the Bolt in this category. Both vehicles represent high quality and higher performance options for buyers. And these models should help to considerably increase the number of electrical vehicles sold in the U.S. and around the world as they become available.

Electric Buses Promise to Help Revitalize Urban Areas, Make Public Transport More Attractive

(Gothenburg is one of many cities around the world moving to electric bus based transportation. This form of transport is not only clean, it provides unique features that aid in city planning and urban renewal. Video source: Electric Buses Regenerate City Planning.)

Larger electric vehicles such as trucks and buses are also starting to become more widely represented. For example, Chinese EV manufacturer BYD recently received an order for 50 new all-electric buses from Argentina. Proterra, another electric bus manufacturer, just had an order from the city of Seattle for 73. King County, which includes Seattle, plans to have all its buses powered by electricity within 3 years. Electric buses have seen major advances in recent years and now feature ranges as long as 350 miles and charging times in as little as 3-30 minutes.

Better Access to Charging Infrastructure, Faster Charging, Superior Performance

Expanding EV charging networks are also making these vehicles more accessible to the public. Tesla has invested heavily in placing chargers along highways in the U.S. and around the world. And it is the only automaker presently making superchargers — capable of fully charging an electric vehicle in about an hour — available as a special service to its drivers. These networks are adding to EV ease of use and are helping to further reduce range anxiety. Meanwhile the ability to charge at home, at work, and at numerous destinations such as grocery stores, rest stops, and malls adds to EV versatility and ease of use — providing convenience that ICE vehicles lack.

tesla-superchargers-destination-chargers

(Tesla’s ever-expanding charging network includes both super-chargers and more conventional charging stations. Image source: Gas2.)

EVs now also provide superior performance when compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in a number of areas. Though gasoline is presently more energy dense than batteries (a situation that is changing as battery technology improves), electric motors are far and away superior to internal combustion engines. Smaller electric motors save weight and space — allowing for larger vehicle interiors and storage. Meanwhile, an electric motor’s ability to rapidly deliver energy to the drive train produces superior acceleration and torque compared to ICE based vehicles. It is this feature that allows the Tesla Model S to outperform even motorcycles in acceleration. Simplicity of design is also a superior feature of electrical vehicles — one that is enabling EV owners to dramatically reduce maintenance costs. Less moving parts and less complicated engines enable this benefit. Add in greatly reduced fuel costs and it becomes pretty clear why EVs are enjoying such rapidly rising rates of adoption.

Helping to Combat Global Climate Change

Increasing EV popularity and access helps to combat global climate change on a number of levels. First, EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions. Second, EV engines are more efficient than internal combustion engines — so they use less energy overall than fossil fuel based vehicles. Third, EVs mated to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar produce zero or near zero carbon emissions during operation. Finally, the batteries used to charge EVs can provide storage for intermittent sources like wind and solar energy. And this energy storage can occur both while the batteries are sitting in a stationary vehicle and after-market when batteries are removed following the end of the vehicle’s time of use.

EVs are also transformative in that they greatly reduce and provide the potential to eliminate emissions from large segments of the transportation sector. And this is a pretty big deal as global transport is presently one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. With EVs, supply chains for food delivery and manufacturing have the potential to be decarbonized — which also helps to reduce various material and food based carbon footprints.

So the EVs are coming. A liberating economic force that’s helping to drive an energy switch that the world, at this time, desperately needs.

Links:

Dramatic Plug in Vehicle Sales Growth During 2016

EVs Will Soon Be Cheaper Than Regular Cars

Norway to Ban Petrol Vehicle Sales

Chevy Bolt

New Nissan Leaf With 200 Mile Range is Coming

Tesla Model S

Chevy Bolt vs Model S

Electric Buses Regenerate City Planning

BYD Sells 50 Electric Buses to Argentina

Seattle Buses to be All-Electric

Gas2 — More Tesla Charging Stations

Hat tip to JPL

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102 Comments

  1. DJ

     /  January 13, 2017

    This is quite exciting news, and confirms a lot of what I’ve been reading, here and elsewhere. We’re basically watching a race between 2 accelerating trends at the moment – price-performance (and corresponding adoption rates) of renewable energy, going against the increasingly visible impacts of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    As long as we don’t cross some point of no return that triggers a run-away feedback loop in the climate (and recognizing the possibility that we may have already passed that point) I’m optimistic that technological advance will accomplish what policy and governmental action has failed to do – drive widespread adoption of clean, low carbon energy sources that might just save us from ourselves.

    Reply
    • So we should be very clear that the forces now at play in the markets arose from positive policy decisions in the U.S., around the world, and in places like California. Positive policy is essential to maintaining a brisk pace of renewable energy adoption. It’s just that now, such policy will tend to produce better and better results overall. In regions that erect barriers to renewables, such policies will be tough to maintain due to the fact that these areas will basically be hobbling themselves economically, environmentally, and on the basis of healthcare costs. In addition, global leaders — both economic and political — who look at the situation rationally will come to see that cost of doing business and maintaining infrastructure increases over time due to climate change. So the rational choice in all cases will tend to more clearly weigh on the side of renewables.

      There is clearly a special interest argument at play. And it’s the one we’ve been wrestling with for some time now. The one represented by oil, coal, and gas. And these guys will tend to keep fighting to delay the energy transition in every way possible. Ironically, despite the current win by Trump and Republicans, the base environment for them protecting fossil fuel interests doesn’t look very good at this time. It doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in their various attempts to sabotage renewables and responses to climate change. But what it does mean is that it will be a heavy lift politically and economically. One that produces strongly negative consequences that will tend to come back to haunt them as time moves forward.

      Reply
      • DJ

         /  January 13, 2017

        True, policy can speed the process significantly, particularly at a national level. But I think there’s a larger dynamic in play, one that’s been repeated multiple times over history, as a superior energy source displaces a (currently dominant) inferior one. Eg, transition from wood to coal, then coal to oil. In both of those cases the nation first to adopt the new energy source quickly became the dominant global power. And typically, the first to adopt did so because they had less invested in the status-quo. So, if history is a guide, America is currently following a path previously walked by Britain, clinging to an outmoded energy source, doomed to be eventually eclipsed as an economic power by those nations/regions who embrace and drive forward the development of the next generation energy source. Of course, the additional factor at play this time is the looming climate catastrophe if this transition doesn’t happen quickly enough.

        This isn’t to in any way excuse the current administration and its horrendous ensemble of climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists, just to point out that they’re likely fighting a losing battle against a larger global dynamic.

        Reply
  2. Greg

     /  January 13, 2017

    Thank you Robert. Nicely done. I just got a Chevy Volt that came off a lease in Maryland. So for less than a financed 16k I got a mostly electric (I stay below 40 mi.most days before the small ICE engine runs). I have shifted how I see the world, not just becoming hyper aware of mileage and efficiency but seeing electric outlets everywhere. And I have conversations with strangers now and educate them. It’s a joy to have these choices. We’ve waited a long time…

    Reply
  3. Cate

     /  January 13, 2017

    East coast of England on high flood alert this evening because of an expected storm surge.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-38593857

    Reply
    • Good link Cate, I’m in Bungay, Suffolk so it’s good to know.

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  January 13, 2017

        Victor, you live in such a beautiful part of England! BBC is now reporting that flood gauges in East Anglia are predicting a 20 in (50 cm) surge. A repeat of 2013 for some areas (eg Jaywick in Essex), it seems?

        Reply
    • Thanks for this, Cate. There is a lot going on right now. I might just see if I can put it all together in a compilation piece for today.

      Reply
  4. I was an early adopter of the Chevy Volt and just traded in my 2012 model for the new 2017 that has improved range of up to 52 miles all electric. Since I charge it from my 5.6 kW solar power array, I am literally driving for free with zero carbon emissions. This is definitely the way of the future. And as you said the acceleration is quite thrilling. It is nice to see an American manufacturer (GM) take the lead on electric vehicles.

    Reply
  5. Griffin

     /  January 13, 2017

    Thanks for the uplifting post Robert. We all needed to read this after this week!

    Reply
    • Spike

       /  January 13, 2017

      It’s going to be hard for the right to block cheaper energy that’s cleaner, or cars that are cheaper to run, cleaner and more efficient forever. Reminds me of the backwoodsmen in England who tried to block the railways to protect the canal trade in the 19th C.

      They’ll probably try by legislative and other means, such as the fees or taxes they try to levy on solar roofs (currently happening to commercial roofs in UK) or by planning restrictions – the latter have virtually killed new onshore wind in England. But that is only tenable for a while as otherwise political pressure grows as your nation visibly slips behind the rest of the world.

      here’s an interesting story from Hawaii – solar + storage 11c/kWh. http://www.utilitydive.com/news/hawaii-co-op-signs-deal-for-solarstorage-project-at-11kwh/433744/

      Reply
      • Spike — my apologies. Somehow this comment ended up in the abyss. I’ve pulled it back for posting. Again, mea culpa for the delay and warmest regards to you, my friend.

        Reply
    • Agreed, Griff. I need to write it. As Obama noted, there is momentum on the side of clean energy. We’re in a situation where the administration coming in will try to throw rocks in that road. It’s our job to make that a very difficult task for them. But we should be clear that we presently have a fighting chance and, at this point, it looks like base economics are on our side.

      Reply
  6. Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Thank you, Robert.

    Reply
    • Amen, my friend. Amen.

      Reply
    • wili

       /  January 13, 2017

      Yes. Great article with many points I have made over and over again through the years to doubters of evs, but just to remind ourselves the there is still plenty of darkness…Total auto sales globally for ’16 was about 34 million, so still a long way to go… Similarly, solar and wind still only make up a relatively tiny percentage of total global energy production, in spite of general popular perception. And the forces are evil are on the rise, as we all know too well, here in the US and more and more elsewhere.

      But the trajectories are indeed looking impressive and current conditions often hide enormous shifts about to transpire.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  January 13, 2017

        STAND!
        There’s a midget standing tall
        and a giant beside him about to fall

        EVERYBODY

        STAND!

        STAND!!

        STAND!!!

        Reply
      • For solar and wind the global rate of add is in the range of 140 gw per year. Depending on efficiency, that’s right on the cusp of starting to pull emissions downward while outright replacing fossil fuel infrastructure on a net basis vs present rates of growth. Add in the fact that renewable adds appear to already bake in a +12 percent efficiency gain and you get a bit of a compounding factor.

        Solar at 76 GW in 2016 https://cleantechnica.com/2016/11/30/global-solar-installations-reach-76-gw-2016-mercom/

        Wind at 65 GW in 2016 https://cleantechnica.com/2016/10/13/global-wind-energy-capacity-reaches-456-gw-set-hit-500-gw-year-end/

        This add is comparable to the construction of about 25 to 40 nuke stations in just one year when taking capacity factors into account. Meanwhile, the combined capacity of wind+solar is now 800 GW global approx with 300 GW as solar and 500 GW as wind.

        http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/GSR_2016_Full_Report.pdf

        The total renewable fraction of electricity generation is now in the range of 2,000 GW. With approx 450 GW of thermal generation capacity in addition to base electricity.

        Given these new numbers the total fraction of renewable energy generation for the world is now in the range of approx 12 percent. The wind + solar fraction is probably in the range of 2 percent — compared to nuclear energy at 2.5 percent. Add in traditional biomass for an approximate total 20 percent of energy coming from renewables. Since 2014, therefore, it appears the renewables have shaved approx 0.5 to 1 percent off the total fossil fuel share for all energy.

        This is a smaller fraction than fossil fuels at approx 77 percent in 2016. But what is notable is that the movement for all energy is in the direction of renewables. Slow, but visible. Note that these figures include all energy — including transport — not just power generation.

        The power generation picture looks quite a bit better than the overall energy picture. In 2014, approx 78 percent of all electricity generation came from fossil fuels + nuclear. By 2015 this share had dropped to 76.3 percent. And the new figures indicate that 2016 will probably see a drop to approx 74.5 percent. The wind fraction of electricity production will increase to around 4 percent of total electricity generation and the solar fraction will jump to around 2 percent. The total renewable fraction will probably hit around 25.5 percent.

        Now that’s not something to sneeze at.

        Also worth noting is the fact that the price of base wind and base solar is competitive now with pretty much every electricity generation source. Projects now approve for as low as the 2 cent per kwh range in the lowest cost projects. Meanwhile, solar + storage projects are now dropping into the 8 to 15 cent per kwh range — which is competitive in many regions. Kauai just signed for an 11 cent per kwh solar + storage project, for example. This is 2 cents per kwh less expensive than the base cost of diesel fuel alone and about 12 cents per kwh less than the combined cost of the diesel generation this solar energy is replacing.

        It’s worth noting that this solar+storage pricing is approximately in the range of average solar energy prices from 5-6 years ago…

        To this point, regions are now not only going to have to contend with concerns of climate change in making power choices. They will also have to consider the basic fact that failing to choose renewable energy will tend to make their regions economically noncompetitive. That choosing to stick to fossil fuels, for whatever region, will be equivalent to wasting resources that could be used for other projects. When you add in the other costs of carbon based generation — such as harm to health, the environment, water, and quality of life — this has been the case for a long time. But this basic truth did not show up on balance statements. Now, the balance statements will tend to show that renewables are the best price even as rational observers will intuitively understand that they represent the highest value for cities, regions, and nations.

        Reply
      • esuttor

         /  January 13, 2017

        Just a quick clarification: global auto sales have averaged approx. 90 million units annually over the last few years. OICA, an industry group, has not yet released final 2016 numbers, but reports 46 million in the first half of 2016, with the full year units for 2015 and 2014 being 90.7 and 89.8 million respectively. My point is that the EV adoption deserves policy support because while adoption of EVs has accelerated (great!) the global auto market is huge and it will be awhile before EVs can gain share just on fundamentals.

        Reply
  7. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    Many thanks for this illuminating article Robert – the best news amongst all the gloom of war, greed and politics.

    And it’s happening all over the world.

    50 new electric buses will reportedly be utilized by the government in Argentina as part of a pilot program intended to “introduce” the technology to people there. The 12-meter electric buses will reportedly be spread throughout the country, with a number of different cities getting an allotment.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/11/50-byd-electric-buses-argentina-local-factory/

    Reply
  8. coloradobob

     /  January 13, 2017

    On the PBS Newshour last night ……………..
    Solar jobs are 12 times ahead of the national average.

    Reply
  9. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    Tool helps cities to plan electric bus routes, and calculate the benefits

    An IIASA model helped inform a new tool for cities to optimize electric bus systems, which has now been used in Sweden’s first wireless charging bus system, launched in December.

    http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/170109-bus-kth.html

    Reply
  10. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    Tesla has finished building a ~1,600 kilometer (~1,000 mile) Supercharger corridor from Melbourne to Brisbane in Australia, according to recent reports. That means that, for the first time, Tesla owners in Australia can easily take a trip between the two aforementioned population centers while using nothing but Supercharger stations for recharging.

    The corridor was finished with the completion of 3 new supercharger stations along the route — one in Heatherbrae, one in Knockrow, and one in Coffs Harbour. The stations in Heatherbrae and Knockrow both reportedly feature 6 charging stalls each, while the one in Coffs Harbour, which is intended as a temporary location, only features 2 charging bays. The Coffs Harbour site will, according to Tesla, be replaced by a permanent location somewhere nearby at some point in the “near” future.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/11/tesla-finishes-melbourne-brisbane-supercharger-corridor-australia/

    Reply
  11. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    And it’s all go for two wheel fans too . . .

    It was out of these frustrations that the M1 was born. An e-bike crafted to look like a classic cafe racer motorbike, the M1 is unique in that it does not need to be registered with the local motor vehicle department, nor do drivers need a motorcycle license (though it is best to confirm both of these with your local authority before purchasing). It can safely zip around traffic in the bike lane and upon arriving at the destination, can park safely, securely, and FREE at typically plentiful bike parking spots, all of which are huge benefits.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/11/monday-motorbikes-launches-the-m1-motorbike-aka-ultimate-urban-commuter/

    Reply
  12. coloradobob

     /  January 13, 2017

    PBS ran a great series this week about nukes. Bombs to soup. I watched it all . And I thought , no solar collector will ever explode, and drive people from their homes forever.

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  January 13, 2017

      Bombs to soup..
      There are 4 cores melting now. If we had just poured all that money into solar. The amount of money Japan is spending now. All that money doesn’t create “wealth” . It’s the Dutch Boy Thumb in the history of the world,

      Not one nickle of Tepco spending creates wealth, They have over see this site for 240 , 000 years.

      Not one solar panel has ever exploded

      Reply
    • Did a search on this one and nothing came up. Was the name of the program ‘bombs to soup?’

      Reply
  13. Greg

     /  January 13, 2017

    Current US electric vehicle tax incentives with likely expiration datea by manufacterer:

    http://insideevs.com/us-federal-7500-ev-credit-expiry-date-by-automaker-estimates/

    Reply
    • Still time to purchase for most brands. Although with Tesla and their 500 K waiting list for the Model 3, it looks like most people have already locked their discount in.

      Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  January 13, 2017

      Watch this

      Reply
      • coloradobob

         /  January 13, 2017

        NOVA

        The Nuclear Option
        53:32Video duration: 53:32 Aired: 01/10/17 Expires: 02/08/17

        Reply
        • coloradobob

           /  January 13, 2017

          Let’s remember not one of this makes any of us safer.

    • OK. Got it. Thanks for posting this link. Listening while writing… 🙂

      Reply
    • Worth noting that some of the data in this presentation is old. China is no longer building one coal fired plant per week. In fact, new coal plant construction in China is lagging and older plants are being shut down. It is also worth noting that an approx 1 million EV per year build by 2017 implies 50 GW of electrical storage capacity built each year. Considering battery pack growth, we are looking at 150 GW of electrical storage capacity per year by the early 2020s.

      Nukes, sadly, have taken a long, slow time to get moving. The earlier reactors were unsafe over longer time frames. New reactor designs are considered to be safer. Hopefully that’s true. But I’ve seen nothing that puts 150 GW per year of new nuclear on the field in so short a time. I am not against the notion of clean and safe nuclear. But the energy source has been harmful and it’s currently quite expensive. Higher cost and less public support will result in a lagging rate of adoption. I don’t think it’s possible that we could hit a 150 GW per year scale for nuclear over such a short time period.

      In short, the NOVA presentation seems to be somewhat ignorant of the amazing gains that have already been made by renewables and the position renewables now hold — one in which energy markets are set to be flooded with clean, cheaper energy. Nuclear, in other words, is having trouble competing on a cost basis with other forms of clean energy. And the path for rapid build out is not clear — as it is for renewables.

      That said, nuclear will probably play a part in a transition away from fossil fuels. China will probably add some nuclear and newer, safer nuclear appears to be re-emerging in the US. But it’s just tough to see how it will be or how it even can be the leading edge considering its economic, social, waste disposal, harmful mining operations, and safety constraints.

      Reply
  14. Vera Desmond

     /  January 13, 2017

    Thank you Robert for some good news. It is exciting times for those of us who are trying to shine a light on our global crisis. The design of many of these cars is also ultra modern and should sell well. Good luck Tesla and everyone who is trying to right the wrongs of fossil fuels.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the kindness, passion, and compassion, Vera. We can probably thank climate change for helping to spur an energy renaissance. I just hope that we undertake the transition soon enough.

      Reply
  15. Vic

     /  January 13, 2017

    Electric motorcycles seem to be outclassing their fossil fuelled brethren too.

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Vic. Range is starting to be comparable to FF bikes. Power and performance is definitely superior. Recharge times are not as much of an issue with bikes since riders tend to take longer breaks while traveling.

      Reply
  16. Amy

     /  January 13, 2017

    I’ve had my Leaf 2 months, and I can’t imagine driving an ICE again. I only regret I didn’t do this years ago.

    Reply
  17. wili

     /  January 13, 2017

    Flying mother nature’s silver seed
    to a new home in the sun…

    https://www.google.com/search?q=after+the+goldrush+youtube&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Reply
  18. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    And even better, without smoky diesels and with pollution free roads, more cycle routes.

    Paris plans a major boost to its cycling infrastructure and will ban cars from outside the Louvre museum as it steps up its fight against traffic pollution, the mayor said on Sunday.

    http://news.trust.org/item/20170108174059-o8t2n/

    Reply
    • I like the notion of an electric bus + bike synergy for city centers. It’s a good thing France doesn’t have the same allergy to public transport that we suffer from here in the U.S. That said, I’ve seen a lot of new work on bike lanes and rental bikes in numerous regions. I do think we could work more on safety here, though.

      Reply
  19. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    An E.U funded project to protect Welsh and Irish coast from climate change.

    The research aims to help safeguard the sites from the risk of climate change and minimise the impact on local economies.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-38600431

    Reply
  20. redskylite

     /  January 13, 2017

    And a very interesting release on the relationship between the climate in the high Northern hemisphere latitudes and corresponding Southern hemisphere latitudes , which is of particular interest and fascination to me. Seems a further build on knowledge of previous effects and a clue of what may be in store in the future.

    “It’s most surprising that we can see these really abrupt changes in the Northern Hemisphere making it very quickly to the Southern Hemisphere,” said first author Bradley Markle, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences. “The atmospheric circulation is tightly connected across the globe during these events.”

    http://www.washington.edu/news/2017/01/10/rapid-arctic-warming-has-in-the-past-shifted-southern-ocean-winds/

    Reply
  21. Ryan in New England

     /  January 13, 2017

    China spending a billion dollars on a solar plant in the contaminated zone in Chernobyl. From the ashes of a nuclear disaster rises the future of power generation.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/solar_power_to_rise_from_nuclear_ashes_20170112

    Reply
  22. Vic

     /  January 13, 2017

    Parliament House in Canberra.

    Just as well its occupants were able to preoccupy themselves with the latest round of rorting politicians scandals.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-13/canberra-storm-fells-trees-across-city/8181242

    Reply
    • Thanks for this Vic. For context, can you give us an idea of how out of the ordinary these storms were for this region at this time of year? Would help to get a local perspective. Best, — R.

      Reply
      • Vic

         /  January 14, 2017

        These violent storms while not unheard of, do in my layman’s opinion seem to be increasing in frequency and/or intensity of late, particularly in the last year or so, coinciding with the recent surge in global temps and the sudden drop in Antarctic sea ice.

        Reply
  23. wili

     /  January 13, 2017

    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/as-earth-warms-up-the-sun-is-remarkably-quiet

    “As Earth Warms Up, The Sun Is Remarkably Quiet

    If you’re looking toward the sun to help explain this decade’s record global heat on Earth, look again. Solar activity has been below average for more than a decade, and the pattern appears set to continue, according to several top solar researchers. Solar Cycle 24, the one that will wrap up in the late 2010s, was the least active in more than a century. We now have outlooks for Cycle 25, the one that will prevail during the 2020s, and they’re calling for a cycle only about as strong as–and perhaps even less active than–Cycle 24.

    Weak solar cycles tend to produce fewer solar storms, those dramatic bursts of magnetized material from the sun that generate spectacular auroral displays and play havoc with satellite-based systems and power grids on Earth. However, solar storms that do emerge during weak cycles can be among the most potent, notes Scott McIntosh (National Center for Atmospheric Research). Just as a catastrophic hurricane can occur in an otherwise quiet season, a quiet solar cycle can still cause devastating space weather, McIntosh told me.

    “If you look at the record of extreme events from the sun, they most often occur in weak cycles, and they almost always occur in the deep, descending part of the cycle,” he said”

    One would hope that this kind of thing would finally shut up the folks constantly saying “It’s the sun,” but somehow I doubt it. :/

    Reply
    • Thanks for this wili. In brief, the net negative forcing from declining solar activity since the late 1990s is in the range of -0.5 watts per meter squared. The net positive forcing from fossil fuel burning and carbon emissions is in the range of +2.9 watts per meter squared. The net add due to fossil fuel burning over the same period is approx +0.7 watts per meter squared.

      In other words, the loss of solar activity probably would have produced some cooling if the fossil fuel forcing wasn’t so large or growing so rapidly. Unfortunately, the drop in solar activity may have masked some of the warming we would have otherwise seen over this period. We might be another 0.1 or 0.2 C hotter now without the slackening in solar activity. Which is pretty obnoxious when you consider how close we are to 1.5 C now.

      Reply
  24. wharf rat

     /  January 13, 2017

    The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science

    Billy Barr moved to the Rocky Mountains four decades ago, got bored one winter, and decided to keep a notebook that has become the stuff of legend.

    In 1973 Barr had dropped out of college and made his home an abandoned mining shack at the base of Gothic Mountain, a 12,600-foot stone buttress. The cold winds blew through the shack’s wood slat walls as if they didn’t exist. He shared the shack’s bare dirt floor with a skunk and pine marten, his only regular company for much of the year. Barr had moved from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains precisely because of the solitude, but he couldn’t escape boredom. Especially that first winter. So he measured snow levels, animal tracks, and in spring the first jubilant calls of birds returning. He filled a notebook with these observations; then another notebook. This has continued now for 44 years.

    Barr’s data would likely have remained the tinkerings of an amateur scientist were he not so close to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), one of the most important phenology research sites in the world. During the last couple decades, scientists at the RMBL have become fascinated with climate change’s impact on plants and animals in the high alpines, hoping to scale their discoveries into broader lessons about life in a warmer earth. But their research suffered from a dearth of long-term records. In Gothic, for example, the spring snow seemed to melt a little earlier. The flowers blossomed a little sooner. But without historical context, these little changes could not be understood for what they really were

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/01/billy-barr-climate-change/512198/

    Reply
  25. JPL

     /  January 13, 2017

    Hell yeah! Great article, Robert. I picked up a used Leaf a couple of years ago and its my favorite of all the cars I’ve owned. Took it in for a software update yesterday and the only upsell they tried was to see if I wanted the tires rotated. It’s practically maintenance free. Probably won’t need brake pads until 150k miles.

    Rex Tillerson, watch your 6. Electrical storm is coming up behind you…

    Reply
    • I like your electrical fire, JPL ;). Thanks for being an early adopter and helping all these positive changes to happen, my friend. With after market EVs more and more available, and with prices falling as capability rises, this choice is becoming easier to make for everyone.

      I’d also like to thank you for making me aware of the new EV bus buys going on in Seattle. I find this trend to be very positive.

      Reply
      • JPL

         /  January 13, 2017

        RS, my pleasure. I’ve been seeing those battery-electric buses around on their trial runs for the last year and every time I see one it reminds me that in spite of all of the BS, positive change *is* happening. There is no going back.

        Reply
  26. Suzanne

     /  January 13, 2017

    Neven has just posted about the records being broken on Arctic Sea Ice:
    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2017/01/global-sea-ice-records-broken-again.html#comments

    Sabbatical or not, records must be reported (like I did last year, here and here, albeit a month later).

    According to NSIDC data, the Global sea ice area record for lowest minimum has just been broken, as shown on this Wipneus graph (world famous now because of what happened after September last year; see the dark red line on the right side of the graph which should be fairly easily to spot):

    Reply
    • DJ

       /  January 13, 2017

      Based on weather forecasts, it’s likely to get quite a bit worse over the next week or so. Thin ice, warm water, bad storms and winds favoring export out of the arctic. Looking to be a bad end to the freezing season and a really bad start to the 2017 melt season. Lots of really good information on the arctic sea ice forum. This really should be getting way more (or even SOME /ANY) exposure in the mainstream media…

      Reply
      • So the forecast is bad when you consider the ice export picture. That’s a physical problem when you consider the fact that there’s so little thick ice left. The temperature situation is also rather bad — 2.7 to 4.8 C positive anomalies in the region of the Arctic Ocean for the next seven days.

        I hate to say it, though, but it could be worse. But not by much. It does appear that we will have at least some ice growth in some regions. The tendency under more normal conditions, though, would be for snap freezing back toward higher coverage levels. That does not appear to be the case. It appears that the energy balance for the Arctic system has changed. It’s looking like something in the manner of a step change.

        Reply
        • DJ

           /  January 13, 2017

          I agree, I think the biggest problem is the near disappearance of multi-year ice and of ice with any appreciable thickness, much of it exported through the Fram Strait. The extent and area graphs are alarming, but the temperature and darkness more or less guarantee a certain amount of freezing in the winter, and corresponding thaw in the summer (at least until the ocean dynamics change completely, as apparently if the fresh-water lens in the Arctic ocean gets mixed with warmer deep water that guarantee of winter ice can go away, somewhat independent of air temperature). But the collapse in volume is the real red flag. That, coupled with the poor condition of most of the ice and the amount of heat in the water almost guarantees a really shocking melt season coming up.

          BTW, the volume chart, along with the extent, area and other nice graphs are all available on Wipneus’ site

          https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/global-sea-ice

          (this is the source of the images in Neven’s latest post)

    • Cate

       /  January 13, 2017

      OMG, the Wipneus graph. Look at 2017 compared to 2016, on the left side of the graph. We are into a new phase here, are we not? This is one hell of a step change?

      Reply
    • Fantastic article by Neven here. Thanks for the link, Suzanne.

      Reply
  27. Suzanne

     /  January 13, 2017

    Off topic:
    Well, a week from today, I am going to get “way” out of my comfort zone, and get on a bus for 17 hours to attend the “Women’s March on Washington”. I am going to shove my agoraphobia as far down as possible because I feel going is that important if you care about CC, Social Justice, Decency..etc. I am doing it because I feel we are at a critical juncture in our nation as to “who and what” we really are as a people. I am going because I am hopeful that the march will be send a strong message, that there are millions of us who will stand up to the tyranny, ignorance and hate of Trump and his Regime. We will not be complicit in this attempt to hijack our nation with fear, ignorance and lies.

    There are 280 “Sister Rallies” being held all over the nation and the world on January 21st.
    https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters

    I hope you will consider going to either Washington or to one of the Sister Rallies. I think the bigger the attendance, the bigger the impact. Right now, they have recorded 500,000 plus people registered to show up at “all” the rallies in total. The organizers have sent out an email asking that we share the information…and hopefully, get the numbers up to a million attending overall….which is why I am posting this information here.
    Wish me luck…thanks.

    Reply
    • wharf rat

       /  January 13, 2017

      200 buses have applied for city parking on Inauguration Day. 1,200 have applied for the Women’s March.

      At President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, which saw record breaking attendance numbers, more than 3,000 charter buses were registered for parking permits in the city that day.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2017/01/12/200-buses-have-applied-for-city-parking-on-inauguration-day-1200-have-applied-for-the-womens-march/?utm_term=.97aeea978615

      Reply
      • Suzanne

         /  January 13, 2017

        Thanks for that link…Wow!! I have done protests, rallies, etc over the years…but never gone to D.C. to attend one, so this is all “new” for me.
        Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…LOL!

        Reply
    • My wife and I are going to attend the million woman march! Looking forward to my first chance to protest this president’s terrible agenda.

      Reply
      • Suzanne

         /  January 13, 2017

        My husband is going to the sister rally being held locally, where as of now..they are expecting nearly 1,000 people. They are having a poster making gathering tomorrow and the Palm Beach Post is sending a reporter to even that event, which I think is good news. I am hoping that these events get lots of coverage both nationally and locally.

        (BTW Robert…I am totally ignorant about D.C in terms of travel amenities, and have not been able to find out if they have lockers available at the Metro stations. Do you happen to know? I did find out they had them at Union Station, but that is all I was able to find out. If you have any guidance or ideas you can share, please email me..I would appreciate it. This will only be my third time in my life heading up to D.C. )

        Reply
    • Witchee

       /  January 13, 2017

      I am going to the sister rally in Chicago, and so far I have knit two pussy hats- one to wear, one to give away.

      Reply
    • Cate

       /  January 13, 2017

      Suzanne, I wish I could join you! But it’s a bit of a trek down there from my old Rock. Please know that I will be with you all in spirit, along with many millions of others, there is no doubt. Looking forward to hearing about the event from you! Bless.

      Reply
      • Suzanne

         /  January 13, 2017

        Thanks Cate. I am a bit nervous, yet excited about participating. Look forward to sharing with everyone hear when I get back.

        Reply
  28. Eric Thurston

     /  January 13, 2017

    It’s great to see evs making such progress. I expect that in the western US adaptation might be a bit slower because of the greater distances people travel. But there will probably be a transition phase in which a lot of people will have an ev for their local travel and an ICE or hybrid for long distance travel. The hybrid may become the ‘bridge’ vehicle. I still have my 2006 Honda Insight averaging 60mpg. 60mpg will hopefully soon become an extravagance.

    Reply
  29. JPL

     /  January 13, 2017

    If you’re thinking about putting in rooftop solar at your residence and your homeowner’s association says no, you might have the law on your side.

    Here in Washington State, your can tell your HOA to take a hike:

    http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=64.38.055

    Wouldn’t this make a swell federal law?

    Reply
  30. To add to the list of little things (article in Portuguese): http://www.acritica.net/editorias/saude/doenca-da-urina-preta-tem-semelhancas-com-casos-antigos-do-am-europa/180372/

    Since December 2nd 2016 new, unexplained cases of acute rhabdomyolysis (necrosis of the muscles, causing acute pain, dark urine and weakness) are happening in Salvador Bahia, here in Brasil. The epidemic already has 52 cases (with 2 deaths – one associated with cardiac prior-illness, another with an overdose of antiinflamatory drugs before hospitalization). There´s no known cause for this epidemics yet, but there are two suspicions: a virosis (like Haff disease, but patients aren´t showing symptoms of Haff disease like gastrointestinal problems) or toxins in sea food (trouble with this hypotesis: some of the patients affected have been avoiding sea food because of news of the epidemics).

    There´s still very little news about this… but if viral, it´s the first time Haff disease is transmitted in Brasil (if it´s Haff disease, the absence of other syntoms is weird) and if it´s a toxin, it´s probably related to pollution and very warm sea temperatures this summer in Salvador (a few similar cases, where fish toxins were implied, happened in the Amazon in the near past, alongside microbial blooms. There´s no red tide in Bahia right now, though).

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  January 13, 2017

      When you speak of disease, I pay attention umbrios. I will never forget that you told us about Zika long before it hit the news!
      Truth be told, every single thing you write is worthy of attention. Thanks.

      Reply
    • Suzanne

       /  January 14, 2017

      I second that Umbrios. When you bring something to our attention….my ears perk up. Thanks …and keep us up to date.

      Reply
    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  January 14, 2017

      We sometimes see acute rhabdomyolisis after over-extertion in hot weather associated with dehydration, hyperthermia and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, or DIC (‘If you have DIC you’ve had the dick’ ie you’re in deep trouble). And with ‘compartment syndrome’ too, but an infectious agent causing it sounds very nasty. Of course disease patterns will go hay-wire, and new pathogens emerge, many zoonoses, while older ones may evolve into more pathogenic forms, as the climate destabilises.

      Reply
      • Thank you all #^_^# The over-exertion hypothesis was the first one studied and discarted when the first cases in Salvador showed up in the hospital (some of the affected had very sedentarious previous days, only lounging in the beach.). The other two hypothesis are being tested by labs, and there probably will be answers in 2-3 weeks… at least if this is a toxin or viral. There have been 3 suspect cases in Ceará (a state neighbooring Bahia) this weekend, but the epidemiologist studying this outbreak ( Antônio Bandeira, head of the arboviroses of the Brasilian Society of Infectology-SBI ) is not sure if it´s the same disease. The other cases have been very close geographically:

        Reply
  31. Greg

     /  January 13, 2017

    Thomas Edison’s original charging station for his electric vehicles. We’ve come a long way and ended up where we started.

    Reply
  32. Meljay14

     /  January 14, 2017

    Suzanne, thanks for the link to sister marches. My daughter and I will be going to our local one, here in Canberra.

    Reply
  33. One day soon I’ll get on the EV bandwagon. Fortunately I work at home and my wife runs or takes the bus, and we can get the kids to school on foot, so our overall mileage is already quite low compared to average. I’ve got the kids asking for an electric car, so they’re now hopefully influencing my wife about making that budget adjustment. The ICE is paid off and mostly working, so it’s hard to make the switch, but it’ll happen, and I’m hoping sooner than later.

    Reply
  34. 12volt dan

     /  January 17, 2017

    Been offline for awhile but Nikola has introduced their new class 8 truck now hydrogen powered
    https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/01/nikola-unveils-its-hydrogen-powered-semi-truck/
    If it’s half of what it promises then it’s still better than diesel and looks way cooler which, I think will aid sales as well. Can’t wait for these snow plows to convert to electric

    Reply

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